As a tobacco treatment "specialist" I concentrate much of my drug research or research review, on nicotine. I have been keeping my eye out for any news on the nicotine vaccine research I came across late last year or was it early this year... wow.. it is all a blur. Anyway, a newstory came out today regarding a COCAINE vaccine and in that story I did get a little update on my nicotine vaccine, but here's more>
What do we know about the actions of these drugs and treatment to assist the addicted?
Cocaine, Heroine and Nicotine - because they are not the same.
To the best of my comprehension, I share this:
Cocaine acts in the brain my inhibiting dopamine reuptake. Cocaine binds to the chemicals that cause the reuptake and thus blocks the re absorption of dopamine. The user feels that happy high as the neurons continue to be stimulated. The same occurs with the neurotransmitters serotonin and nor epinephrine.
Nicotine acts in the reward center of the brain too, but it does not prevent re uptake of neurotransmitters (NT). Nicotine actually binds directly to a certain kind of receptor and turns it on, releasing seven different NTs including dopamine.
Heroine is a bit different. It is an opioid and when it gets to the brain it is changed to morphine which attaches to opioid receptors that release endorphins. Apparently, morphine mimics endorphins which can help us to feel happy and to reduce pain. Again, the heroine causes this indirectly.
It seems that only nicotine is doing the direct receptor binding.
Anyways, heroine addicts can be given regularly scheduled long term methadone which many believe is a better option than the unpredictable and dangerous highs and lows from the street drug. There are over 1200 Methadone clinics in the US.
Nicotine addicts are given nicotine replacement therapy for less time than heroine addicts get methadone. To the best of my knowledge, cocaine users get help with detox and behavioral treatment but there is no FDA approved medication treatment for cocaine addiction.
The proposed vaccine for both cocaine and nicotine aims to keep the drugs from ever reaching the brain. It is in the brain that the dopamine is manipulated and the reward system high jacked, so theoretically, keeping the drug out of there would prevent any euphoria or positive association and thus cancel out the addictive process. I am hopeful for both.
I am sure you're wondering but I cannot explain as confidently - alcohol. I know that alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and that it also has a neuro chemical effect. It does interrupt regular neurotransmitter actions, but I do not know if it binds to receptors, inhibits them, weakens, them or all of the above. I only know that there is some safe level of alcohol use, but no save level for the other drugs mentioned here.